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Immunization

Meningococcal B (Men-B) Vaccine

Immunization protects you from disease.
Get protected, get immunized.

  • Vaccines make your immune system stronger by building antibodies, which help prevent diseases.
  • Immunization is safe. It is much safer to get immunized than to get this disease.

Who should have Men-B vaccine?

This vaccine is given to people who are at risk for meningococcal disease (e.g., health problems, some lab workers). Talk to a public health nurse to find out if you can get the vaccine for free.

This vaccine may be offered after close contact with meningococcal B disease.

Others who may benefit from the vaccine include children under age 5, teens ages 15 to 19 years, and some people who travel to areas where there is a high risk of meningococcal B disease. In these cases, the vaccine is not free. Check with your health insurance provider as some plans may cover the cost.

How many doses of this vaccine are needed?

The number of doses you need depend on your age and why you are having the vaccine. Ask your health care provider how many doses you need.

Are there other vaccines that protect against meningococcal disease?

 

Even though you may have had a meningococcal vaccine in the past, you may still need Men-B to protect you from type B meningococcal disease.

MenconC is given to babies to protect them from type C meningococcal disease.

Teens and people with certain health conditions get MenC-ACYW to protect them from types A, C, Y, and W-135 meningococcal disease.

How well does the vaccine work?

After the recommended number of doses, between 67% and 100% of people have antibody levels that are considered protective. Protection may weaken over time.

Where can I get Men-B vaccine?

If you need the vaccine due to work (e.g., some lab workers), talk to your workplace health and safety department.

Anyone who is eligible for free vaccine, should contact the public health office in their area.

If you are travelling to a meningococcal risk area or you want this vaccine but are not eligible for free, call a travel health clinic (e.g., AHS Travel Health Services) or speak to your doctor or pharmacist.

Are there side effects from Men-B vaccine?

Reactions to the vaccine are usually mild and go away in a few days. They may include:

  • redness, swelling and discomfort where the needle was given
  • crying or feeling tired, irritable
  • headache or body aches
  • poor appetite, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • fever
  • rash or hives

It is important to stay for 15 minutes after immunization because people can have a rare but serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis). If anaphylaxis happens, you will be given medicine to treat the symptoms.

Unusual reactions can happen. Call Health Link at 811 to report any unusual reactions.

How can I manage side effects?

  • To help with discomfort and swelling, put a cool, wet cloth over the area.
  • Children under 3 years of age who are getting Men-B vaccine with routine immunizations may need fever medicine to prevent a high fever.
  • If you need fever or pain medicine, check with your pharmacist or doctor. Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than 19 years old because it can cause serious health problems.
  • Some people with health problems (e.g., weak immune system) must call their doctor whenever they get a fever. If you have been told to do this, call your doctor—even if you think the fever was due to immunization.

Is there anyone who cannot have Men-B vaccine?

You may not be able to have the vaccine if you:

  • have an allergy to parts of the vaccine—always tell your healthcare provider about allergies.
  • had a severe or unusual reaction after this vaccine (or a similar one)—always tell your healthcare provider if you have had reactions.

You can be immunized if you have a mild illness (e.g., cold), even if you have a fever.

For More Information

Quick Facts: Meningococcal Disease

What it is

  • a bacteria that causes meningitis (infection of the brain and spinal cord covering) and other serious infections (e.g., blood)
  • 1 out of 5 people become deaf, get brain damage, have seizures, or lose a limb
  • 1 out of 10 people can die

Who is most at risk

Most serious infections happen in people who:

  • are 4 years of age or younger, 15 to 19 years of age, or 60 years of age and older
  • have health problems
  • have a respiratory infection, like influenza
  • live in crowded homes
  • smoke or are exposed to second-hand smoke
  • travel to meningococcal risk countries

How it spreads

  • spread from saliva (e.g., kissing; sharing food, toys, or water bottles that have been in someone else’s mouth)
  • some people do not have symptoms, but can spread the disease

Current as of: July 16, 2019

Author: Immunization Program, Alberta Health Services